See It to Believe It:
Dogs Glow Red

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See It to Believe It:
Dogs Glow Red

From Netscape.com
April 2009

South Korean scientists have announced they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could one day be used to develop cures for human diseases, reports The Associated Press.


In this undated photo released by the Seoul National University shows the world's first transgenic female beagle dog carrying fluorescent genes that make the canine glow red, named Ruppy in 2 days after birth at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 28, 2009. (AP Photo/ Seoul National University, HO)


In this undated fluorescence photo released by the Seoul National University shows the world's first transgenic female beagle dog carrying fluorescent genes that make the canine glow red, named Ruppy in 2 days after birth at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 28, 2009. (AP Photo/ Seoul National University, HO)

See photos released by the Seoul National University that show the world's first transgenic female beagle dogs that carry fluorescent genes that make them glow red. The four dogs were all named "Ruppy," a combination of "ruby" and "puppy."

The four dogs have all been named "Ruppy," a combination of the words "ruby" and "puppy." They look like just normal beagles in regular light, but when they are placed under ultraviolet light, they glow red. Even the nails and abdomens look red. But there is something more important here than the novelty of a dog that could double as Rudolph. Lead researcher Lee Byeong-chunm a professor at Seoul National University, claims these are the first transgenic dogs with fluorescent genes. "What's significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them," Lee told AP. While scientists in other countries, including the United States, have previously cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, this is the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Lee said.

How did they do it?

The South Korean researchers took skin cells from a beagle, inserted fluorescent genes into them and then put them into eggs before implanting those eggs into the womb of a surrogate mother. Six female beagles were born in December 2007 through a cloning with a gene that produces a red fluorescent protein that makes them glow, Lee explained to AP. While two died, four others survived.

What does this mean?

Lee says the glowing dogs show that it is possible to successfully insert genes that carry a specific trait. Someday scientists will be able to use the same technology to implant other genes that could treat specific diseases, such as Parkinson's. However, there may be some skepticism in the scientific community since Lee was a key aide to disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose breakthroughs on stem cell research were found to have been made using faked data. Independent tests, however, later proved the team's dog cloning was genuine, reports AP. The study findings were reported on the website of the journal Genesis.

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